Most of us have at least heard of the Casey Anthony trial, and from one mass media source to another, are hearing about it nonstop. I personally have not been following it as closely as many others seem to be, but from what I do know, there are many missing pieces to the puzzle. So many pieces were missing, in fact, that both the prosecution and defense alike were forced to offer up one half pieced argument after the other. From the portions of the trial I did catch, it was obvious how the amount of holes in each side’s story (not to mention an amazing lack of solid evidence for either side) that far more had happened then was being addressed.
Yet the part that disturbs me the most about this is how many people have gotten so emotionally involved in the whole case. Nationwide you have the majority of people who never even knew this family throwing in their two cents, and the media sucking it all up like a starved mosquito. What this translates to me is the media feeding off of people’s base emotion to be protective of children.
Having failed to present a case with enough solid evidence to convict Casey of murder, the media and masses alike are finally pursuing the next best thing – child neglect leading to the death of a child (which there are already a million laws out for, but who cares – more laws are good right?). Being a parent I am sympathetic – I miss my kids even after only a few hours when they are being watched by their relatives, let alone a whole day without seeing them. So when I am told that Casey went 30 before she decided to look for her own, I can understand why so many are upset. Yet can new laws actually prevent such oversight from leading to death in the future?
I was going to stay clear of this until someone very close to me asked me to sign the petition for Caylee’s Law. The new proposed law would “make it a felony for a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker to not notify law enforcement of the disappearance of a child within 24 hours, so proper steps can be taken to find that child before it’s too late.” Its stated purpose is thus: “This way there will be no more cases like Casey Anthony’s in the courts, and no more innocent children will have to go without justice.” In other words, this proposal would seek to make the law able to impose stricter punishment on those whose neglect leads to such dire things like death, and simultaneously prevent further occurrences.
To most, it sounds like there is no downside to this law, and that it will allow for justice to be served. In cases like Caylee though, it cannot, for only a small portion of the truth was revealed in court, leaving other relevant factors completely ignored. In the game of ‘he said, she said’, there are rarely any winners, and given the courts inability to take all factors into account, anyone else who had anything to do with it will never be held accountable. It is for this reason that making future occurrences will meet with the same issues.
In addition, the pressure the media places upon the ‘justice system’ to do something will always have a negative impact as well. Over 3 years ago before the duct tape was even found (which proves nothing as it is a very common item that did not even have any of Caylee’s dna on it(according to the courts)), Nancy Grace was calling for the conviction of Casey years ago. How a former prosecutor could use so little evidence to convict someone, not even knowing the rest of the factors involved is beyond me, but I guess hysterics and busy-bodied ideals know no bounds. This is most irresponsible as it forces the prosecution to act without fully investigating (thus you have your lack of evidence etc), and only manages to get one side of the guilty party, leaving any others involved relatively unscathed. If that’s what you call justice, then I really do not know what else to say save for that obviously a so called ‘civil society’ can witch hunt with the best of them.
In addition, all laws that seek to pre-empt a crime always carry unintended consequences. At this point most people are so emotionally wound up that they either do not care to hear this, or will refute such words as is inherent in emotionally based responses. Too bad, because I am going to examine these anyway as repeating past mistakes is getting old.
First of all, let’s say that someone does smother their kid because they want to be ‘free’ from them. Are they going to confess to murder to avoid being charged with a felony? No. Or what if someone deliberately ‘misplaces’ their child on the same basis – are they going to go to the authorities in 24 hours and tell them that they lost their child? No.
Therefore this law can only be considered preventative as the knowledge of strict punishment will prevent unreasonable action. Yet if there is one thing society proves over and over every single day, it is that unreasonable people do know of the consequences, they just don’t care or see it as something they can get away with anyway. Drug laws do not prevent people from smoking or shooting up. DUI laws do not prevent drunk driving. If she was indeed guilty, the death penalty did not stop Casey. Seriously, if the threat of death does not stop such action, what makes people think the threat of incarceration will?
You see the idea of such a concept sits well with most people because most people are reasonable. What they either ignore or choose not to confront is that the laws they seek to have put in place are not to deal with reasonable people, but rather the unreasonable ones they have no understanding of. They do not understand what goes through the mind of the unreasonable people, and cannot accept the fact that they will just act. This lack of understanding and knowledge that knowing that they cannot be there to protect the innocent all the time makes them turn to the last means they feel they have left – the law.
Yet the law is made up of 4 crowds. You have the people who want the law enacted for a myriad of purposes, the governing bodies who will bicker for hours on how to accomplish it with as little adverse effects as possible, and the enforcement agencies who are charged with making it so. Finally you have bad people whose actions spurn the perceived need for new laws.
In this case, people see the proposed law as simply slapping a felony charge onto said people who have children in their care, and cannot account for them after 24 hours. The legislative system sees it as ‘ok, not so bad’, and eventually drafts a short bill saying something along those lines. Then you have your law enforcement who can act on behalf of the law either when someone reports the child as missing, or when they perceive that something they run into is not as it seems. Let’s just say a parent does mess up – badly; or they have a willful child who manages to run away.
In either case, the parent(s) will be slow to call the police at first knowing that whatever happens, they will be faced with either child services, or some blight on their otherwise spotless record. Let’s say they do everything they can, but on that 24th hour, come up short? Now they are faced with felony charges. In the cases of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’, people often act even more irrationally.
Some people may say ‘well such parents deserve it’. Yet such an arbitrary law will not care about the circumstances involved, which sadly, are actually quite broad in scope. Now in most cases, this will not happen at all as they were good parents and taught their children well. Yet it only takes one mistake – just one.
So if this proposed law runs into the same issues that allowed the Casey case to go on as it did, how can it prevent such crimes? The sad truth is that it can’t.
I know that’s not what people want to hear. They want only to hear that the new law gets enacted now. They want to know that the law at least exists so that justice may be served in the future – screw the unintended consequences (which I barely even touched on) and the many issues it will run into no matter how much you add to it.
It is times like this that I wonder what it will take for people to stop basing their responses on emotional triggers. Throughout US history we have had the worst laws imposed upon us with the most hurtful side effects, many of which people deliberately ignore or deceive to avoid being faced with them. They are not enacted by evil people hoping to make us all miserable, but rather because people demand that something must be done; even if it does not make sense, as long as it will give people a warm fuzzy that things will be all better from the moment of their enactment. Such responses are the most devastating in every manner of the word, yet people do it anyway.
If I insulted anyone, then I apologize. I realize that many are hurt by this, and are justifiably upset that such action is seeming to go unpunished. I do not mean to demean anyone, nor do I think less of them for being human. However it needs to be realized that evils will happen regardless of what laws are enacted, and because of unintended consequences created by an imperfect system created by imperfect people.
While all this was going on, can anyone tell me how many more children were murdered, raped, kidnapped, or went missing? A lot more than one. Had you turned off the TV and focused more on your neighborhood and those closest to you, imagine how much smaller that number might have been. Instead of fearing evil, staying ‘safe’ within your four walls, and treating your neighbors with distrust, try getting to know them and checking them out – at the very least you will have a better picture of your neighbors, and can even be of more help should something bad befall them; or have their help if you need it. Think about that for a minute.
Or you can continue to on the path of fear and indignation, hiding in your house hoping that the law will make one iota of difference when it’s already too late. Keep watching these flapping heads on TV taking their word as Gods own truth, and see how much ‘safer’ you will get. Then when the day comes when the law bangs on your door, and you think you have done nothing wrong, be aware that it was actions taken by people just like you that made that knock happen. Keep ignoring the words of reason, and believing that those on TV are going to guide you to your utopia – go ahead. Just don’t ask me to lift a finger to help when it comes back to haunt you. Finally, when you’re the one in the hot seat, remember this warning: no law on earth can prevent someone intent on harming another from doing so – it never has, and it never will. I welcome rational debate to anything I have just said, but will not answer comments that simply mimic the typical buzzline.
And for the record – for all of you who think that the Casey trial should have gone the other way, you have only yourselves to blame. You’re the one who wanted the news to report everything to you. You’re the ones who pressed the ‘justice system’ to act since day one – forcing them to act before any real case could be made. The same news heads you adore so much who brought you this story also ticked off the Casey neighborhood so bad that not even the parents are welcomed back. The news admitted this and said that they don’t care because it is their job to mess up peoples lives just so that you sitting at home can be ‘informed’. Great job people.
Now go ahead and be mad me my friend, but I refuse to sign my name to that petition; not because I don’t care, but because I do.